Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm anxious about my Big Sam today! Ever since Vic ran over that small tree that fell across the road as he was driving home from church in the spring of 2012 when Eli and I were freaking out in Memphis watching the destructive storms pass through home, our 2001 Toyota Sequoia SR5 just hasn't been the same. And all his issues are because of us, not him :( We depend on him and push him, push him hard. I shrink to no task with his wheel under my grip, including my plan to pull a trailer full of laundry detergent to St. Jude in Memphis Thursday for the Grizzlies House. Eli loves to pull things with Big Sam. Many of you that have followed Eli for a while will remember him wanting to wish for a lawn mower trailer from Lowe’s as his Make-a-Wish just so Big Sam could pull something - empty, not even with a cool mower! We had a talk and I explained the breadth of possibilities and we came up with the camper wish - phew!

I’ve driven Big Sam with a crooked bumper, a cock-eyed headlight, and a busted brake light cover, to name a few exterior flaws. We never cared that the back windows didn’t match since one was replaced a decade ago after Vic backed into the pillar of a parking garage. Big Sam took Abbey to UAB regularly for eye procedures when she was a baby and Vic wasn’t use to driving him.

Six years ago, a storm came through and knocked part of a huge tree partly down behind the house while Vic was out of town. It was left hanging over where the kids play. I drove Big Sam into the yard and attached a rope to something on the front of him that seemed sturdy and pulled it down. The kids were little and went nuts that I drove the car in the yard and pulled down a tree.
My independent little man earned 2nd place
in his karate tournament. So, proud of this one.
And, we didn't recognize Big Sam for a while when we lost his eyebrows to the tree that Vic ran over, but grew accustomed to his new look. We haven't missed the cassette player that was never used and now doesn't work. We have learned to duck because the tailgate doesn't open as fast as it use to or as wide as it use to. We consider the lines of the springs showing through the back of the seats to be a refreshing new upholstery design, and the sagging pockets to be more easily accessible. We work around the middle seatbelt that finally gave out after 13 years of holding a carseat snug, and we just make sure our electronics are charged so that no one needs the 12v outlets in the back.

It feels like home with all the sticker decorations that line the way-back. When Eli was born, I had to move Abbey to the way-back by herself. So that she wouldn’t feel lonely, I allowed her to put all the stickers from doctor visits on the sides. We went to the doctor a lot back then, and when Eli was moved to the way-back so that Caleb could take over the middle and Hg’s legs were too long for the way-back, I allowed him to do the same so that he would feel some ownership of his new position in Big Sam’s way-back with Abbey. Like a little grandaddy that sits still for his granddaughter’s favorite Barbie nail polish to be applied, Big Sam has held the stickers fast for 9 years and looks like a TV Guide list for Nick Jr and Disney Jr.
Abbey and Hg's basketball team wear Eli blue.
Hg has moved from being by herself in the middle of the middle row in a carseat, to the way-back when we needed two car seats in the middle row, to the side middle when her legs got too long for the way-back, and now to sitting taller than me in the seat next to me.

Big Sam has held their secret half-eaten unwrapped suckers, ring-pops, sour straws, uneaten breakfasts and treasures in his side pockets like a BFF. He has endured a beating from us inside and out as he turns 13 this month and is about to turn over to 247,000 miles. I fear my hope of seeing him turn 300,000 miles is dimming because he is once again sitting in the parking lot of McClary Tire. He is leaking a tiny, tiny bit of anti-freeze. Tiny. Vic said he wants to replace the entire cooling system, but if it costs too much, he won’t fix him this time. EEEEKKKK!!!
Eli seems to be doing well enough for me to be comfortable
to get back to some walk-runs on my fav trail. Thanks to some
church ladies that sit with Eli for me to get to go some.
The kids and I decided to run him through the car wash on Saturday and after I paid and was in line, the lady had me roll my window down. I thought she was going to tell me my headlight was loose, which is usually what they do. They have to tape all kinds of things down when we go through, but the kids think it’s fun to get a carwash. “You probably know this, but you are overheating bad,” she said to me. What! No I didn’t know, my head was buried updating my Facebook status to let everyone know I was getting a carwash. And, sure I could smell something, but I’m a mom, smells just don’t grab my attention any more. So, we coasted through the carwash with the engine off, and pulled over to wait for our first responder.
The kids playing on a trampoline with a useless safety net and
a bed that is just a seam away from splitting and busting
their bottoms on the ground. Just can't get everything done.
Vic had been smelling the burning anti-freeze for a few weeks, maybe months, and the reservoir just finally ran out. He filled it up, and Big Sam has been rock-solid ever since…. just with a slight antifreeze aroma. I can live with that, so, my proposal, is to just keep the antifreeze filled up and we are good, right? He is great other than that one little limp of maintenance and who among us is perfect.

I don’t mind telling you that this big girl will cry. I will boo-hoo like a little girl who just saw her favorite dolly fall down a bottomless trash chute. Big Sam is me. He has been my identity since I changed identities to be known as Hannah Grace’s mom, Abbey’s mom, Eli’s mom, and Caleb’s mom. We bought him new, the first year the model came out, and we have aged together.

I also don’t mind telling you another reason I don’t want him to go is because Vic will put me in a mini-van. I know, I know, yes, they are practical, have useful bells and whistles, get better gas mileage, but I don’t want one. Bottom line, I don’t want one because I just don’t. Yes, I am a 45-year-old, gray-headed, over-weight mother of four that no longer has a fashion style, hair style or any remarkable characteristic, and Big Sam is not even cool, but I’m holding onto him by my fingertips as the last of what has been me. I promise I will protest by picking out a bench-seat passenger van and will be honored to join Mr. Smith in the front parking lot at school. Or better yet, I will only agree to a conversion van with a table and spinning captain's chairs and an appetite for massive gallons of fuel. Vic is going to offer a compromise and wave a new-ish gas-friendly Honda Odyssey in front of me with the lower-profile lines because he knows that is the only one I am remotely noticeable of. And he will have the kids on his side because they all want those fancy-smancy sliding doors and convenient media outlets, but I am going to have a hard time giving up my dependable, safe, big footprint. I am still waiting to hear, but I think I may need to be trying to come up with a new auto image that fits our family needs and wants and my identity.

Ok, I'm sorry, the above was obviously for me.... So, Eli seems to be doing pretty well. He seems great, actually, and it worries me. I hope I'm not falling for some evil trick that enables me to easily slip into blind denial then slugs me under the chin with a destructive upper-cut. I am incredibly anxious about this scan on Friday. It will determine if we stay the course and if we have indeed bought any time, although who could know how much. It seems to me that we already have had more time than if we had done nothing. The disease had progressed markedly after our Disney trip, that was after almost two months after our original find. So, to me, the untrained and uneducated, I would think if it had progressed much from that he would be showing worse signs. But, as you remember, his tumors were not in areas that cause any exterior stress yet, even to grow some. So, I am cautiously hopeful that we have stabilized it.

I hope it is Big Sam that will be taking us to Memphis Thursday morning with the church trailer in tow full of laundry detergent. Eli will have triage and a couple of other benign appointments that day, but Friday will be a long one. He has the MRI starting at 6:45 a.m., which will last about three hours, then appointments for the results, then chemo for three hours. We will be traveling home after that. So, rough, quick trip.

The house is still in upheaval, and it is so hard to keep a clear mind with the mess we have been living in. And, I hate that Eli and Caleb can't enjoy their toys or have room to play much in the house. Hopefully, the weather will continue to get better and we will just move outside.

Please, continue to pray for Eli. I know that you do, but I have to say it or I will always wonder if I said it enough. It’s like my mother still telling me “Don’t drive fast.” Please, find 60 seconds on Friday to pray specifically for him and that this treatment has slowed the progression of this monster. That this path we have chosen is leading us to where we want to be. Thank you always for your donations, you spoil me with your willingness and generosity.

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